Hearing from a member of the public that someone has been murdered in your community in broad daylight is something that no reporter ever wants to experience.

On Saturday, February 11, I received a message on social media from a member of the community in Culcheth – the message read: “Heads up, there has been a murder on the Linear Park in Culcheth this afternoon.”

I had never spoken to the person before, but they knew that I was the Warrington Guardian’s reporter for Culcheth at the time, and when I saw the message, my blood ran cold.

Nobody anticipates reporting on a murder case, and as every new detail was revealed about the case, the more unnerving the whole situation turned out to be.

Initially, the police confirmed that the body of a woman had been found; then they revealed it was a teenager; then they confirmed the identity of the person was 16-year-old Brianna Ghey.

The investigation moved swiftly, with the police arresting two teenagers within 36 hours of Brianna being killed in Culcheth Linear Park; those teenagers can now be named as Eddie Ratcliffe, from Leigh, and Scarlett Jenkinson, from Culcheth.

As every new detail was revealed, it became clear to those of us at the Warrington Guardian that it was our duty to our community to report on Brianna’s story with respect and care; we didn’t go knocking on doors and intruding on people’s grief. We maintained a respectful distance from Brianna’s family, and ensured we did not cause anyone any distress.

Warrington Guardian:

When reporting on the emotional vigils that were held in Culcheth and the town centre following Brianna’s death, the overwhelming sense of community spirit was inescapable. Though the circumstances were tragic and horrifying, the way in which our town came together made me proud to be from Warrington.

Our town rallied around Brianna’s family, and stood as one in one of the most trying moments in Warrington’s history.

Hundreds of mourners attended Brianna’s funeral, at St Elphin’s, and they all wore pink at the request of Brianna’s family, as this was her favourite colour; there were very few dry eyes as the horse-drawn carriage brought Brianna’s coffin to the church.

Warrington Guardian:

In May, I was contacted by a friend of Brianna’s mother, who told me that she would be taking part in the Great North Swim for charity. I explained that if she felt comfortable, then it would be a privilege to meet her and to discuss her plans.

When I met Esther Ghey, I was struck by how amazing this woman sat before me truly was. There was not a hint of anger directed toward her daughter’s killers, and she showed nothing but empathy and compassion for their families – she has maintained, for example, that they too ‘have lost a child.’ Following our interview, and discussion of Esther’s plan to raise money in the Great North Swim for the Mindfulness in Schools Project, I decided that the Warrington Guardian could propel this further, and I proposed the idea of a campaign between Esther and the newspaper.

Months of work behind the scenes from myself and Esther led to the launch of the Peace in Mind campaign, in September 2023.

Warrington Guardian: The campaign in memory of Brianna Ghey - Peace in Mind - has raised more than £25,000 since

The goal? Raise £50,000 to fund mindfulness training for teachers in Warrington, which would allow them to provide more support for schoolchildren across the town.

Since its launch, the campaign received the backing of both of the town’s MPs, Warrington Borough Council, Warrington Wolves, the Warrington Wolves Charitable Foundation, and even celebrities such as Sam Smith, and Boy George.

From the campaign’s launch in September 7, the goal of raising £50,000 was smashed in fewer than five months; as of January 31, the campaign hit its fundraising target.

Amid the fundraising, a murder trial unfolded at Manchester Crown Court, which delved into the horrifying nature of Brianna’s murder.

The country sat gripped, as we heard the brutal circumstances in which a teenager lost her life.

Following an 18-day trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict, finding the two 16-year-old defendants guilty of murdering Brianna Ghey on February 11, 2023.

Six weeks later, the court was reconvened for the sentencing of the teenagers, as well as the lifting of the legal restrictions which prevented the murderers’ names from being revealed to the public.

Now the sentence has been imposed, and the public can move on from the harrowing details of this murder trial, it has been paramount to those of us at the Warrington Guardian that Brianna is remembered for the person who she was, not the way in which she died.

It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to work so closely with Esther, and the rest of Brianna’s family, as I have worked to tell her story and to help create a legacy for her.